Tumbang Gagu Longhouse was founded in 1870 using the traditional Dayak method of releasing a chicken and seeing where it roosts. In an isolated area, on a rising by a pretty rivulet, the longhouse was built by traditional owners, mainly village head Singa Raja Antang bin Lambang Dandu, after a grant from the Dutch and Antang’s own personal wealth made it possible. Close to the sources of his wealth in the abundant forests nearby, strategically placed on his export routes to the port at Sampit, the longhouse became home for his 3 wives, each in her own apartment, with the other families.
55 meters long, it is built in the traditional style atop huge ulin ironwood tree trunks and other supporting poles numbering well over 200. Roughly hewn by adzes and towering 5 meters over the sloping ground, the longhouse provides protection and shelter for the families living in the midst of the forest. The niched poles leaning against the longhouse give slippery access, but may be quickly raised if trouble looms.
The longhouse remains in the hands of descendants of the original owners, though currently only two families live there. In the central apartment live Antang’s grandson, Pak Labuang and his wife, Ibu Leri, now old but determined to keep the tradition and majesty of the longhouse alive.
A village has grown up nearby and natural resources are still being mined from the abundant natural environment. Gold mining is a dirty and inescapable feature of the waterways, most large trees have now gone, traditional slash and burn agriculture is penetrating the re-growth forests, and banana plantations are springing up in their wake.
About 7 hours from Palangkaraya by road, and a further hour by speedboat on the Katingan River, the last leg to the longhouse is by foot, just over 2 hours along a hilly forest trail. Long periods of rain made the rivers misty and the trail slippery and flooded.
From the outset, losing all phone signals was a bonus. We had a leisurely time visiting in the village, seeing preparations for the brewing of the local rice wine and chatting with a village elder about his warrior ancestors. The provisions we brought were generously cooked by Ibu Leri, and eaten in her traditional kitchen.
Heavy rains and high water levels made an exciting canoe trip upstream, through dense stands of bamboo into places where you can hear the hornbill call, beyond the muddy mining waters. Skimming across pure black water in a tunnel of brilliant green and stopping for a dip in the clean water was a fitting finale to the trip.
Arrange your trip to this distant and little known longhouse through us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXCITING TRIP TO WOW BORNEO
Last week WOW Borneo (KTD) arranged our trip and accompanied by our wonderful Dayak guide Dodi (and ’trainee’ guide Jonathan) we travelled upto see the long house (*betang*) at a little village called Tumbang Gagu, right up in the headwaters of the Sampit (or Mentaya) River.
KATHY AND JACQUES, SWITZERLAND
We had a wonderful 3 days and 2 nights on the beautiful Rahai’i Pangun. The whole crew looked after us every minute with great food, cool drinks and all the comforts to make our trip memorable. Thanks to Lorna, Sayful, Suryadi, Patirwin, Anto, Ujeng and Ready!
NAKASHIMA FAMILY, JAPAN
This Jungle River Cruise gave us a great present! The river and time pass slowly on the boat. Not only orangutans and jungle but also the people, especially the children of the village moved us so much. I was impressed!
To all on the Rahai’i Pangun, thank you for introducing me to the wonders of Central Kalimantan over a fantastic few days. Loved the boat, loved the concept, loved the food – and the company was pretty great too!
It was the trip of a lifetime!
MARDIAH GLEESON, USA
It was so moving to visit the two villages. Kanarakhan and Gaung Baru were memorable in their exchange of culture with us.
METTLIJS BORTE, HOLLAND
Thank you very much for an unforgettable jungle experience. The long boat journey through the flooded jungle was great. The food was excellent as well.
SUE & WERNER EBERT (AUSTRALIA)
The river cruise was beyond awesome. We had a great crowd on the boat. We had fantastic food and nothing was seen as too hard to do for us from all the crew.
RENEE DUGAN (AMERICA)
Thank you again for taking such great care of all of us during our recent visit to Kalimantan. You and the crew were so professional, kind, generous and fun. Our group really enjoyed getting to know you, eating the delicious food presented to us each day, and relaxing on your boat.
SUE HEWETT (21-24 DECEMBER 2012)
This cruise was everything we’d dreamed and more. The boat is very comfortable, the crew efficient and courteous and the food delicious! The guide couldn’t have been better – fun, passionate, thoughtful, knowledgeable and great company!
J.J WALLIA – SAN FRANSISCO, CALFIORNIA
This tour was one of the best vacation and wildlife experiences I have had (and I have seen pretty much everything in Africa). Despite all it has to offer, Kalimantan is a tough place to vacation in so I was not expecting much. However, I was blown away by this trip.